Twizzle Talk


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The Quad Game

There has been a lot of talk lately about the U.S. men and their quad game (or lack thereof, in some cases).

The Chicago Tribune‘s Philip Hersh expressed concern about Jason Brown’s quadless victory at Nationals. Hersh doesn’t think Brown can be a contender without a quad and was proven right this weekend when Brown only finished in 6th place at Four Continents. All five men ahead of him at least attempted quads, though not all were landed cleanly.

It should be noted that Brown did attempt a quad for the first time in competition in the short program at Four Continents, which was a huge milestone for him. He has been skating internationally as a senior since the fall of 2013 and has yet to even attempt one, so to get the first attempt out there and over with is a hurdle in itself. That being said, it was not the greatest attempt: he came down on two feet and well short of rotation, which makes me wonder how ready he is to include the jump at Worlds.

I read Hersh’s article after Nationals and had similar thoughts of my own, as much as I love Jason Brown’s positive attitude and skating style. Figure skating columnist extraordinaire Christine Brennan summed it up pretty well:

“…when the judges reward a quad-less program with a whopping 93.36 points, as they did Friday night for Brown, they aren’t sending the best message.” —Columnist Christine Brennan in USA Today on 1/24/15

What actually stood out to me the most was the huge difference in scores between Brown’s personal best of 93.36 and ladies champion Ashley Wagner’s personal best of 72.04, despite rather similar elements. I’m about to go down a math rabbit hole, so bear with me.

I understand that the men traditionally have higher scores than the women, what with triple axels, quads, and more triple-triple combinations, and I obviously don’t want to take anything away from either of these superb, personal best performances. But being said, the twenty point difference struck me as a huge discrepancy, especially since Brown’s program didn’t include a quad.

Brown earned his 93.36 with a triple axel, triple flip-triple toe, and a triple lutz, with 44.46 of those points for program components. In comparison, Wagner only had 33.71 for program components. Her elements were a triple lutz-triple toe (a more difficult combination, despite the -1 she got for GOE), double axel, and triple flip. The glaring difference here is clearly the double axel that earned Wagner 4.49 points, while Brown’s triple axel was worth 10.07. But that looks more like 6 points to me, not 20. From where I sit, it seems like Brennan has a point about over-rewarding in the scores. Any other wannabe-mathematicians out there have their own theory?

Brown may be the U.S. national champion, but it was bronze medalist Joshua Farris who made the podium at Four Continents, with a quad in his arsenal. I think he will be the one to watch going in to Worlds. With the likes of Denis Ten, Javier Fernandez, and Yuzuru Hanyu routinely hitting quads, those four revolutions have become the name of the game in the men’s event.

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Impressions: Ice Dance in 2014-15

Image Source: eurosport.yahoo.com

(left to right): Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Meryl Davis and Charlie White on the Olympic podium in Sochi in 2014. Image Source: eurosport.yahoo.com

The ice dance event was my favorite of the four disciplines to watch at the Grand Prix Final this year. I loved how confident each team looked, so at ease in their own style. When winners Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje posted a personal best score, I started wondering how the scores of this season compare to the marks of last year’s Olympic Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White and silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who are both absent from competition this season.

I took a look at the best scores of both teams, and the top dance scores of this season still trail by a wide margin: anywhere from 15-30 points. Weaver and Poje have come the closest, while Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates and the French team of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron—the other dance stars of this season—are down 20-30 points. This margin is a testament to the brilliance of both Davis and White and Virtue and Moir. Davis and White’s personal best of 195.52 was at the 2014 Olympics, while Virtue and Moir’s personal best 190.99 was also at that event. Neither team has made an announcement about their competitive future, but it would be safe to say both teams would still be in the mix if they return next season.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje skate their free dance at the 2014 Grand Prix Final. Image Source: sports.yahoo.com

Canadians Weaver and Poje won the 2014 Grand Prix Final with a total of 181.14, a huge improvement on their scores from last season. They earned 169.11 points in their 7th place finish at the Olympics last year. And Chock and Bates are posting scores in the mid-170s this season, nearly 10 points higher than previous years. So things certainly haven’t been stagnant in the absence of the previous two Olympic Champions.

But whether Davis and White and Virtue and Moir return to competition, the legacy of each team definitely still looms large over the sport.